Hospitals use AI systems to identify cancerous cells and lesions.

Should future healthcare providers be worried about being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence in the near future? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) mimics critical thinking and problem solving in a new dimension humans are not quite capable of. AI was only discovered in the 1950s and was introduced to healthcare only as a system for scheduling appointments, establishing the electronic health record and keeping track of immunizations. Over time, the popularity of AI grew, as it was seen as efficient and effective. From that moment on, a myriad of industries and applications joined in a collaborative effort to grow the AI world to be a fundamental part of healthcare.  

Many of the algorithms created for AI systems have been to read data such as heart rate, blood pressure, MRI scans and biopsy tissue samples. But AI is not limited to just the use of data algorithms for their systematic detection. The Da Vinci robotic surgical system is a prime example of how the field of surgery is being revolutionized; robotic arms take on the surgeon’s hand movements and allows a 3D magnified view of the operating space (J Family Med Prim. Care) 

AI has also grown recognition in the gastroenterology community, as it is now utilized in poly detection and diagnosis, in identifying gastric bleeds and in capsule endoscopy imaging. According to a study with the AI4GI model, there was a “greater than 94% accuracy achieved in distinguishing adenomas from hyper-plastic polyps using histopathology as a gold standard.” (Bosworth). With a machine being able to assess data at a faster rate and at a microscopic level, the AI classification system is clearly effective and reliable in assessing patients and moving forward with their treatments. An AI system can half the time it takes to diagnose, which can potentially save a life if a medical issue is caught earlier on in time. 

But will the AI system replace us? Probably not for the foreseeable future. Even with all the potential benefits, AI systems are strictly regulated by the FDA, an organization that requires transparency that some AI companies might not be willing to share. Additionally, medicine heavily relies on the humanistic component. A doctor formulates a special bond with the patient, something a robotic device or system can not do. A patient trusts a physician and other healthcare providers with their life, uncovering vulnerable moments in the process. An AI system would not be able to gain the confidence of hundreds of thousands of people who rely on a simple interaction with a provider for clarity and acme .  There should definitely be a balance between the future AI advances and the human judgement of physicians to holistically treat patients. 

Sources for Additional Reading:

  • Alagappan, Muthuraman et al. “Artificial intelligence in gastrointestinal endoscopy: The future is almost here.” World journal of gastrointestinal endoscopy vol. 10,10 (2018): 239-249. doi:10.4253/wjge.v10.i10.239
  • Amisha et al. “Overview of artificial intelligence in medicine.” Journal of family medicine and primary care vol. 8,7 (2019): 2328-2331. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_440_19